Volume 48, Issue 2- February 2013


Let’s Make Lemonade
Tips to Make the Most Out of Showroom Options
by Paul Bieber

Everyone in the glass business has a storeroom chock full of supplies that are an overhead expense about which we all complain. So, as the old saying goes, “When you get stuck with lemons, start selling lemonade.” Clean up part of your showroom; put some bins on standard shelving and start selling every supply item you have in stock. Every sale results in profit as you really have no inventory carrying cost.

Sell it All
Are you going to compete with Home Depot? Of course not. Anyone who buys your supplies is buying on impulse and not price. They are probably just there for a few minutes while you go in back and find their repaired window. Why will consumers buy from you? Because you are selling professional-grade products. Put signs over your parts display stating these are the tools and supplies you use every day--not the cheap, flimsy tools in the discount stores.

Still not convinced? Read on and consider selling the following products:
• Professional glass gloves: also the world’s best gardening gloves;
• Professional glass cutters: for the home handyman and hobbyist;
• Professional grade glass cleaner: now that their windows are fixed, help keep them clean;
• Professional grade silicone sealer: in many colors;
• Professional grade latex or acrylic sealants: the right product in the right place;
• Safety glasses (also should be worn when doing home-based projects);
• 3 x 24 sanding belts: cloth backed for long-life (sell your new sanders too);
• Razor blades: loose or in boxes of 100 (be sure to leave the wrappers on);
• Every other tool, fastener and caulk in your shop—from glass pliers to screwdrivers.

Make the Most of It
It doesn’t cost you a cent to display everything you use and I promise you will make extra profit. Double your cost on everything you sell. For heavy items, add your freight-in cost to the product selling price. Even if you shop at Home Depot, resell the products at your prices. Putting everything out actually improves how your customers will look at you. They’ll see you have special tools and supplies that only a professional uses.

Whenever you have 1/8-inch mirror cutoffs, cut them to 2- by 2-inches, seam the edges and sell compact mirrors for a quarter. Sell 12- by 12-inch pieces of screen wire for the homeowner who needs a base for their bird feeder. There are glass shops that sell broken tempered glass in 10-pound bags for $5 as decorative stone for gardeners. Charge more for tinted! I saw a shop where they drilled ½-inch holes in ¼-inch cutoffs, selling the round slugs in bags of 12 as checker pieces. A bag of clear and a bag of tint sold for $10 each. Go to a game website and buy blank checkerboards and you can sell the whole package.

Every shop probably has an IG unit that is the wrong color or size. Homeowners will buy these units at a discount when they are building something and can be flexible about the size. Don’t assume your only option is to feed your dumpster. Customers also love a “scratch-and-dent” section--your scratched mirrors, table tops or shower doors.

Profit Potential
Look at everything in your shop as an item that can be resold to the public. You have to clean up your showroom, put up catchy signs and have good lighting. Do you think you will have a shoplifting problem with small-sized supplies? If so, place them closest to your register.

The best single item you can sell, in our glass business or in any business, is a pre-paid gift card. You get the funds now and, on average, only 80-85 percent of the cards will be redeemed. You don’t need a preprinted plastic card; write out a gift certificate on a note card for each sale. Again, put a sign up in your showroom: Give a friend a new table top or a framed mirror using Joe’s Glass Shop’s gift cards.

Paul Bieber has 30 years experience in the glass industry, including 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. You can read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com.

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